The Alaska Native Language Archive adheres to the organizational schema developed and applied to each language within the Archive by Michael Krauss and Mary Jane McGary in the late 1970s. It involves a system of unique identifiers (folder numbers) aimed at arranging items chronologically by author. The files are generally organized by author, and thereunder by date of ‘publication’ or ‘work’. In files with multiple authors, the first or earliest author is used. The call number system codes the language series, author, and date. ‘Authorship’ should be interpreted loosely to include not only author in the traditional sense, but also collector, translator, transcriber, speaker, editor, compiler, or informant; these roles are generally indicated. A brief explanation of the call number system follows:
The first element of the identifier denotes the language, language group, or collection. These are generally two-letter codes; a third letter is sometimes used to denote a dialect. Thus, AL denotes to Aleut, while ALE denotes in particular the Eastern dialect of Aleut, spoken east of Atka. A code in parentheses indicates a subseries. For example, CY(MOR) denotes Moravian church materials for the Central Alaskan Yup'ik language. Where a work refers to more than one language it may be catalogued with several language codes. A complete of codes is given below:
Languages Outside Alaska
The second element of the identifier is a three-digit number consisting of the last three digits of the year of the author’s first known work on or in the language. When an item has more than one author, the date is usually that of the first-named author. When earlier works are discovered after an identifier is already assigned to an author, the existing "start date" is retained.
The third element of the identifier is the first letter of the author’s surname, or several letters in the case of co-authors. For example, B refers to Bergsland; BD refers to Bergsland and Dirks. A second lowercase letter may be used to distinguish two authors whose surnames begin with the same letter and who started working with the language in the same year.
The fourth element of the identifier gives the date of the item. The given date on the published item is used as the item date. When an item includes several editions, translations, or reprinting of a single item, the date of the specific edition in the archive is listed. In some cases an academic year date appears on educational publications, such as 78/79; here the first year has been used as an item date. In the dating of unpublished materials, if a date appears on the item, it is used as the publication date, except in rare cases where we have concrete knowledge that the date is in error. Undated items have been assigned dates based on our knowledge of the authors work. Some of theses dates are quite approximate and this is usually noted in the description. If multiple items were published in the same year, they are distinguished by letters of the alphabet following the date, e.g. "1973a", "1973b".
AL935R1982a reads as the first of several items produced in 1982 by Ransom, who began working on the Aleut language in 1935. ALE948ME1948 reads as an item in the Eastern dialect of Aleut produced in 1948 by Marsh and Ermeloff; Marsh began working on Aleut in 1948.